Elfigo Pena Obituary (1929 – 2022) – Flagstaff, AZ

Elfigo Ulibarri Pena, age 93, entered into eternal glory to join his beloved wife Dolores and son Paul Patrick on September 14, 2022 surrounded by his family. Elfigo was born to Manuel Ortiz Pena and Benina Moreno Ulibarri in McNary, Arizona. Elfigo knew his life partner since they were infants. The story goes that one snowy night in Concho, Elfigo’s family was returning from Holbrook. The incline on the hill to return to St. Johns was too slick for the Model A truck to climb. Elfigo’s parents knew Antonio and Rufina Perez (Dolores’ parents) and knocked on their door for help. The Pena family was welcome into the Perez home for the night. As both Dolores and Elfigo were infants, they were placed in the same crib for the night. Elfigo liked to say that baby Dolores reached over and held his hand throughout the snow night. Elfigo attended school in St. Johns. At that time, the schools were segregated and Elfigo shared many memories of his time at the school. When he entered grade school, Elfigo did not speak English. He said he had to learn English quickly because they were not allowed to speak Spanish during school hours and if they did, they were punished. He also remembered that there was a pretty girl in his class named Dolores. One day, the 4th grade class was lined up to go back into school after recess. One of the other boys poked Dolores on the behind with the bat. Dolores would have none of that and turned around and slapped Elfigo thinking it was he who did the dastardly deed. The blow delivered both hearts and stars to Elfigo. Thus, the romance was forged. After high school graduation, Elfigo enlisted in the Navy with his best friend, Joe Salazar. Elfigo proudly served on both the USS Yorktown and USS Antietam during the Korean War. Elfigo remembered a shore leave in Japan when he was able to connect with his cousin Cristobal Ulibarri, childhood friend Joe Salazar and another friend. The 4 servicemen had a night to remember. They reconnected as friends, cousins ​​and servicemen. Elfigo married Dolores Perez while he was active military and after he was honorably discharged, he attended Arizona Teacher College (NAU) on the GI bill. He completed school in 3 years and started working for Winslow Unified School District after graduation. To many, of his ex-students he was and always will be Mr. Pena. He was the teacher who whistled in the halls, taught them how to square dance, sang to the staff and students, had a story to tell, and taught with dedication. Mr Pena enjoyed his retirement to the fullest. He also enjoyed camping, fishing, bowling, and spending time at the Rancho in St. Johns. Elfigo received joy from his grandchildren and great grandchildren. He always enjoyed video chats and pictures. If Elfigo was not out taking his daily walks, washing his car, or working in the yard he would read his Kindle while sitting across the living room from his wife who was reading her Kindle. Elfigo’s faith in God and the sacraments of the Holy Catholic Church kept him strong and sustained him during the 15 months without his beloved wife. He missed Dolores beyond words and he died a little each day he was without her. However, she taught him to trust in God’s will. As Dolores would say, “Thy will be done.” He is preceded in death by his wife of 69 years, Dolores, son Paul, parents Manuel and Benina, sister Emilia, brother Gilbert, and grandson Manuel, and 9 siblings who died in infancy. Elfigo is survived by his children Steve (Pamela), Thomas (Dee), Antoinette (Jim), Monica (Eduardo) and his sister, Cecelia Pena. He was blessed with 8 grandchildren and 18 great grandchildren and 1 great-great grandson. Elfigo leaves behind many cousins, nieces, nephews, Godchildren, students, and friends who loved him. He will always be remembered as Grandpa, Nino, Primo, Chapo, Uncle, Al, or Mr. Pena. But he was and always will be a child of God. Now he has returned home. Service will be held at St. Joseph Catholic Church in Winslow on October 8th. Rosary will be at 9:30 followed by Holy Mass. Interment to follow.

Published by Arizona Daily Sun on Sep. 28, 2022.

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